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Possible Effects of Climate Change on Next Generation Science Standards in Kansas

Art Credit: KC Education Enterprise | Photo Credit: 123rf stock image

Originally Matt Krehbiel — who is overseeing Kansas’ participation in writing the national Next Generation Science Standards — promised the first draft would be available for public review this winter.

Last February, he assured Kansas State Board of Education members he would do his best to keep his promise, but that — scientifically speaking — winter did not end until March 20.

During their meeting today, state board members learned the first draft should be released at an unnamed time before their April meeting, and that it will be open for public comments for three weeks before work begins on a second draft. And plans are for Achieve, a national non-profit education reform organization coordinating the work of Kansas and 25 other state teams, to release the final standards by the end of this year.

Marcel Harmon, a Kansas City-area scientist and engineer who is a representative of business and industry on Kansas’ Next Generation Science Standards team, assisted Krehbiel with today’s presentation. He said that developing scientific literacy was important for economic development in the state.

“In general,” Harmon said, “we want a population that is more comfortable with science and engineering.”

Although Kansas is participating in writing the Next Generation Science Standards, the state will not be required to adopt them when they are complete. As a matter of fact, during a board meeting last fall, there was some discussion of the potential political difficulty of introducing the new standards in a state where the teaching of evolution has been controversial. The state board of education’s vote in 2005 to place less emphasis on the teaching of evolution in science classes attracted national attention.

As if to underscore concerns about science education in Kansas, today board member Sally Cauble asked Krehbiel if climate change would be mentioned in the new standards. She said one of her constituents from the fifth district, which is located in the western half of the state, wanted her to ask.

Krehbiel’s answer was an unqualified “Yes.”

Although the standards are not complete, they must be based on A Framework for K-12 Science Education published last summer by the National Research Council. A team of nationally and internationally recognized scientists — including two Nobel laureates — collaborated in developing this document, which is available to download free of charge from The National Academies Press.

In the PDF version of the framework, on p. 119, Core Idea ESS3 is listed: Earth and Human Activity. This core idea includes ESS3.D: Global Climate Change.

“Global climate change,” this section begins, “shown to be driven by both natural phenomena and by human activities, could have large consequences for all of Earth’s surface systems, including the biosphere (see ESS3.C for a general discussion of climate). Humans are now so numerous and resource dependent that their activities affect every part of the environment, from outer space and the stratosphere to the deepest ocean. However, by using science-based predictive models, humans can anticipate long-term change more effectively than ever before and plan accordingly.”

The Kansas State Board of Education held their monthly meeting today, March 13, at the Kansas State Department of Education offices in Topeka.

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About jwmartinez

JoLynne is a journalist and educator. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Kansas and a Master of Arts in Teaching from Park University and is certified to teach high school journalism and English. Former employment includes work for Cable News Network and the University of Missouri-Kansas City in addition to freelancing for clients such as the Kansas City Star and The Pitch.

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